The zfs send command creates a stream representation of a snapshot that is written to standard output. By default, a full stream is generated. You can redirect the output to a file or to a different system. The zfs receive command creates a snapshot whose contents are specified in the stream that is provided on standard input. If a full stream is received, a new file system is created as well. You can send ZFS snapshot data and receive ZFS snapshot data and file systems with these commands. See the examples in the next section.
The following backup solutions for saving ZFS data are available:
Enterprise backup products – If you need the following features, then consider an enterprise backup solution:
Backup media verification
File system snapshots and rolling back snapshots – Use the zfs snapshot and zfs rollback commands if you want to easily create a copy of a file system and revert to a previous file system version, if necessary. For example, to restore a file or files from a previous version of a file system, you could use this solution.
For more information about creating and rolling back to a snapshot, see Overview of ZFS Snapshots.
Saving snapshots – Use the zfs send and zfs receive commands to send and receive a ZFS snapshot. You can save incremental changes between snapshots, but you cannot restore files individually. You must restore the entire file system snapshot. These commands do not provide a complete backup solution for saving your ZFS data.
Remote replication – Use the zfs send and zfs receive commands to copy a file system from one system to another system. This process is different from a traditional volume management product that might mirror devices across a WAN. No special configuration or hardware is required. The advantage of replicating a ZFS file system is that you can re-create a file system on a storage pool on another system, and specify different levels of configuration for the newly created pool, such as RAID-Z, but with identical file system data.
Archive utilities – Save ZFS data with archive utilities such as tar, cpio, and pax or third-party backup products. Currently, both tar and cpio translate NFSv4-style ACLs correctly, but pax does not.